Venetian Dreams - Blackamoor Earrings
Traditionally produced for centuries as a specialty item in Venice and Croatia, this pair of Blackamoor or Moretto earrings incorporates a motif that was inspired by the styles of the East. Believed to have protective powers, it was worn in the left ear as a talisman or amulet against evil. A classic design, the figure is typically a bust or a head of a young African male.
Conjuring images of the exotic “Orient” and the free-spirited Venice Carnivale, this pair of 14k yellow gold Moretto earrings is rendered in gold, a black enamel head is topped by a white enamel turban accented with dots of black enamel and a central dot of red. The earrings still have the original back to front gold ear wires.
Measurements: 5/8 of an inch (1.4 cm) in length (north to south on ear when worn) by 3/16 of an inch (0.5 cm) in width by 1/2 of an inch (1.2 cm) from front to back at widest point. Have a weight of 2.1 grams (1.4 dwt).
Hallmarks: 585 and another indiscernible hallmark.
Date & Origin: Early 20th century and is European in origin.
The word “Blackamoor" (in Italian Moretto, Moretti) is a recognized, standard term which refers to a specific type of motif - that of a black African. Imagery such as this has been used in sculpture, jewelry, armorial designs and the decorative arts and was and still is a specialty of Venice since the 16th century, although also produced elsewhere. According to Newman’s “An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry” such pieces were made as a cameo or as an ornament in the round to decorate a pendant, brooch, hatpin or the shank of a seal. The word itself is thought to come from the Middle English "blacke Moor".